It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joe…
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Welcome to another rousing edition of Black Coffee, your off-beat weekly round-up of what’s been going on in the world of money and personal finance. Here’s what caught my attention over the past week…
This week, its a very special Black Friday edition featuring bloggers who had something to say about the biggest shopping day of the year.
Spend on Life – Ashley simply doesn’t get Black Friday and asks us to consider all of the hidden costs of partaking in it. The first of which is the sleep lost by those of you who woke up at 3 a.m. this morning. As I told Ashley, In Los Angeles, NOBODY wakes up at 3 or 4 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving to hit the Black Friday sales. That’s because Angelenos pitch their tents in front of the stores the day after Halloween and then hire illegal immigrants to camp out there until two minutes before the stores open on Black Friday.
No Debt Plan – While I respectfully disagree with Kevin’s assessment that Americans are “infatuated” and “foaming at the mouth” over Black Friday, he does provide a nice review of what to expect. I think it is more appropriate to say that it is corporate marketing and advertising departments who are infatuated with Black Friday; most of the American public that does partake in it, merely tolerates it. Yes it is the biggest shopping day of the year, but most of those shopping on Black Friday to take advantage of the ridiculous deals being offered on that day aren’t enjoying it very much, if at all. At least that’s what it looks like when reading the faces of most everyone who looks like they’d rather be somewhere else. Personally, the opportunity cost of staying home, missing the sales, and avoiding the chaos of Black Friday, is more than well worth it to me.
Wisebread – Adam gives some really good advice regarding five things you shouldn’t buy on Black Friday. Um, Adam, you forgot to mention professional singing lessons from Taylor Swift. My God, can somebody please explain the reason for her insane popularity? (It ain’t because of her vocal chops.)
Personal Dividends - Miranda is another person in the Black-Friday-is-not-worth-it camp. Her biggest beef? The savings don’t cover the cost of her time spent securing the deals. I see Miranda values her time at $85 per hour. That’s pretty good for a personal finance blogger. Maybe John Chow was right after all. Unfortunately for me, using that yardstick, my time is currently worth four cents per hour. Maybe I should be taking advantage of Black Friday after all.
MyLifeROI – Then again, some people really do love Black Friday. MLR said he likes it so much he used to go shopping on Black Friday just to go – even if he didn’t need to buy anything. Hey, I can believe it. Some people enjoy self-mutilation too, you know. But seriously, for those who do enjoy Black Friday – and I know the numbers are substantial – MLR has put together a definitive guide on how to prepare for the big day.
Bargain Briana – Whether you enjoy going out and shopping or not, if you plan to be out on Black Friday, Briana has put together this very well-planned course of action on how to effectively maximize your shopping experience on the big day. This article talks about “shopping ninjas” and reads like an armed forces how-to guide, with detailed strategic plans to account for every conceivable unforeseen situation that might come up, and methods for how to execute the shopping mission with military precision.
Realm of Prosperity – When it comes to Black Friday, Simon is promoting the “utter disregard of its existence,” and tells us why we shouldn’t go shopping on that day. My favorite reason – “You might die.” Well, it’s true. Check out Simon’s article to find out why.
Sun Financial Life – Apparently our friends in Canada don’t have an official Black Friday, but at least one of them is a fan of the American version – and asks for an official proclamation of their own version from the Prime Minister. Be careful what you wish for.
Redeeming Riches – If you are planning to shop on Black Friday, Jason’s article highlighting three simple rules for curbing your credit card use will definitely come in handy.
Four Pillars – Finally, Mrs. Pillars is very creative at making festive holiday table decorations out of fruits, nuts and vegetables, as she shows us in this article. Just check out this nutty turkey made out of a peanut and walnut and see if you don’t agree. I tried making this myself as per her directions, but the dang pumpkin beak wouldn’t stay on. Luckily, a little duct tape fixed that problem right up.
Credits and Debits
Debit: For those of you who think the housing market is getting back to normal – whatever that means – this week it was reported that almost 10.7 million households, that’s 23 percent of mortgage holders, were underwater in the third quarter. On top of that, 5.3 million people currently have mortgages that are 20 percent higher than the value of their home. Meanwhile, a rising proportion of fixed-rate home loans made to people with good credit are sinking into foreclosure. Yes, there was a nice uptick in home sales over the summer, but that was greatly aided by government intervention in the form of the first-time home buyer tax credit. What does it all mean? If you’re looking for a new home, take your time to find your perfect home – the economic conditions that are conducive for allowing an appreciable increase in home prices over the coming year just aren’t there.
Debit: By spending $3.52 trillion this year, President Obama has shattered the budget record for first-year presidents, spending nearly double what his predecessor did when he came into office and far exceeding the first-year tabs for any other U.S. president in history – even after adjusting for inflation. This runaway spending is ruining the dollar and the chickens will eventually be coming home to roost in the form of high inflation that will rob savers, and retirees especially.
Debit: Of course, one sign of continued dwindling confidence in the dollar occurred this week when gold climbed to its highest price ever, capping the longest rally in 27 years. Since November 2 gold has rallied 13 percent, reaching a record $1,189 an ounce on Wednesday.
Credit: This week I featured a post entitled 23 Sure-Fire and Creative Ways to Easily Earn Extra Money. Apparently, there are 24 ways. A 39-year-old man had the bright idea to pay a teenager $31 to spit in his face, along with a few other requests. For his troubles, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department arrested the man Wednesday in a sting operation at a mall in Thousand Oaks. Two questions: 1) How in the world did these guys decide that $31 was the going rate for this type of activity? 2) Did the Ventura County Sheriff really have to set up a sting operation to stop this? I bet that cost the taxpayers a few bucks. 9-1-1, what’s your trouble? The bank is being robbed by two men with sawed-off shotguns – please get down here quick! Sorry, the sheriff is in the middle of an important sting operation - call us back in about an hour.
Credit: On Friday, holiday pendant necklaces containing dried, sterilized reindeer droppings — sprayed with glitter — on a beaded chain will be made available for $15 at an Illinois zoo that hopes to attract holiday shoppers. The limited-edition Magical Reindeer Gem necklaces will debut Friday at the Miller Park Zoo gift shop in Bloomington, Illinois. Last year the zoo sold designer reindeer-dung ornaments. Those ornaments are back this year at $7.50 each, and 450 have already sold this season. After all, nothing says “Merry Christmas, Sucker,” like jewelry and ornaments made out of genuine reindeer crap.
Letters, I Get Letters…
This week’s letter comes from David Pratt who writes:
I am a senior staff with a Financial House here in Spain, I on behalf of my colleagues need your assistance in repatriating the funds left behind by a late customer that died. Actually, this transaction is real and one hundred percent risk free and does not relate to any breach of law.
Of course this is legit, David, but I’m not interested in cash. Please let me know, though, if you have any reindeer dung ornaments or jewelry sitting in abandoned safe deposit boxes.
For his troubles, I’m sending David a gift certificate good for one (1) free professional singing lesson from Taylor Swift.
If you have a question you’d like to ask, or a comment you’d like to make regarding some of my irritating opinions, please feel free to drop me an e-mail at: Len@LenPenzo.com
I’ll feature the most interesting question or comment I get each week here on Black Coffee – assuming I get one, that is. Lately, I haven’t been having too much luck. If you’re lucky enough to be the only question in the mail bag – like David was – I’ll highlight your letter whether it’s interesting or not.
Other Useless News
Here’s a list of my top referrers over the past 30 days. Thank you all – I greatly appreciate the links!
Of these 10 sites, the readers from Wisebread are my top window shoppers, looking at an average of almost 2.5 pages per visit. Perhaps not surprisingly, it is my readers from Time that spend the most time at my site, sticking around for just a hair under 4 minutes per visit.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts You May Have Missed
From April 2009:
Is It Time to Finally Get Rid of the Penny? – A while back I moved into a new office at work. When I looked in the desk, I found 162 pennies in one of the drawers. I can’t really blame the guy who left them there because I think pennies are an anachronism and should be removed from circulation. In this article I make the case for why we need to start rounding everything to the nearest nickel.
This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:
- Carnival of Personal Finance at Fiscal Geek
- The “Smokey and the Bandit” Fan Club at Burt Reynolds. Sean Connery. Whatever.
- Say Cheese! at Look What the Dog and Cat Did For Thanksgiving
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